Family Fun in the Upper Hunter Valley, NSW


The view from Suzi and Neil's House,
in the Upper Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia

An hour along the Gundy Road from Scone, and a kilometre from the nearest house, Suzi, Neil and Katelyn live in an idyllic spot in the Upper Hunter Valley, NSW. "They really do live in the middle of nowhere!", Shannon remarked, when we finally arrived at the homestead, after collecting her and Jane from Scone Station. They had travelled to Australia from South Africa, staying overnight in Sydney, and then catching the train from there to Scone. They were the first to arrive in time for Suzi and Neil's wedding, Christmas, my 70th Birthday, and New Year's Eve, before all disappearing off again.

The cousins made friends immediately, and played together all the time.

David was the next to arrive from Turkey, followed by Clare and Jessica from Italy. Our family were together again after many years, except for our grandson, Jordan (5), who stayed with his father in South Africa. We were delighted when other members of the family arrived too. There was Brian, who travelled from New Zealand, and Lauren, Steven, Findley and Casey, who flew in from Laos. It is easy to see why we have a problem getting together!

We swam in the creek

Apart from the occasional shopping trip, an hour's drive each way over dusty farm tracks, we spent the time on simple country pleasures. We climbed the hill behind Suzi and Neil's house, swam in the creek, rode the horses, or simply enjoyed the stunning views, and the quiet and solitude of the countryside. Sleeping at night is so much easier when all you can hear is the chirping of crickets!

Katelyn rode Savanna

Shannon rode Finale

Jane also rode Finale

Katelyn led Shannon around the round yard on Savanna

Katelyn even led her mother around the yard!

...and then took Jessica for a ride. She certainly is a 
hard-working Australian country girl, considering she is only 3!


An Australian Country Wedding in NSW

The Bride and Groom, Suzi and Neil.

The Dag Sheep Station, Nundle, NSW, was the perfect setting for Suzi's wedding. We arrived, and settled into our accommodation, in good time for the pre-wedding preparations, and everything went so smoothly that we all felt quite relaxed - even the bride! The Sheep Station covers 70 acres in what is known as the "Hills of Gold"; a beautiful location, and the perfect setting for an Australian country wedding.

 A proud father walks his beautiful daughter down the aisle

The wedding itself was held in the station's original historic woolshed, much of which retains all its original fittings of sheep stalls, and shearing equipment; including the faint whiff of sheep!

Katelyn stayed close by throughout the ceremony

Neil signs the marriage register

...watched by Steven, Casey, Finley and Brian, among others

Suzi signs, watched by her bridesmaid, Sandee, and the groomsman, Brad

Two pretty flower girls, Shannon and Jessica

Parents of the Bride!

Jane, me, David and Clare

Mary and Lauren at the reception

The cake was an enormous croquembouche, made by Suzi's friend, Kath.

A happy father with his girls!
David with Jane, Suzi and Clare.


Santa comes to Moonan Flat, NSW, Australia


Father Christmas at Moonan Flat

On Sunday, Suzi, Katelyn and I, went to Moonan Flat for a children's Christmas party in the village hall. This village is one of the smallest in the Upper Hunter Valley, and the nearest habitation to Ellerston. Despite its small size, the Moonan Flat Pub, the Victoria Hotel, has a song dedicated to it. The music is country-style, and it goes:

For food and refreshments it’s the last stop on the road
Where mums and mates stop for a break to split the long trip home
Where kids and dogs sit on the logs, beneath the famous tree
Here’s where it’s at, in Moonan Flat, the pub’s the place to be.

There’s Smiley, John and Pinko, to decorate the bar
There’s oldies singing goldies and some guy with a guitar
A kelpie in the corner, just waiting for the bell.
Come hang your hat at Moonan Flat’s Victoria Hotel.

A possum up the chimney and a tree frog in the loo
The locals think its normal and the ghost is welcome too
A bullet hole where Thunderbolt, stopped and signed the door
The grooves where boots did jigs for years, across the barroom floor.

There’s Smiley, John and Pinko, to decorate the bar
There’s oldies singing goldies and some guy with a guitar
A kelpie in the corner, just waiting for the bell.
Come hang your hat at Moonan Flat’s Victoria Hotel.

While we waited for Father Christmas to arrive, we snacked on the
food people had brought. This was just for starters!

Katelyn was really excited to receive her gift

...and was happy to pose for photos

All the children together with Father Christmas

Father Christmas arrived in this logging truck

One of Santa's helpers!


Harrigan's Irish Pub, Hunter Valley NSW

Suzi and her Hens, ready to start the wine tour
I was delighted to be invited to Suzi's Hen weekend in the run-up to her wedding on the 22nd of December. I was a little worried as to what the girls might have in store, but fortunately, everything went off well and we had a delightful weekend in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia.

Nicola picked Suzi and me up, and drove us,with Aimee, to Harrigan's Irish Pub, where we were to stay the night. The pub has a definite Irish flavour, and is surrounded by beautifully laid out gardens, and lush vineyards. These, against a backdrop of distant mountains, makes for a spectacular location.

Immediately on arrival, we were taken to a dray, driven by two cart horses. This was to be our transport for the wine tour. Our first stop was for lunch. The lovely ladies had prepared a selection of dishes, which we ate in a picnic area.

These mini quiches were quite delicious

There was such a lovely selection of food for the picnic

Gingered chicken in cucumber rings, yum!
After a few spritzers, and fully fed, we began our tour. We had such fun travelling through the countryside at a leisurely pace, being pulled along by the enormous horses; then stopping to taste a selection of wines at the vineyards.

Our last stop was at the Hunter Valley Gardens, where we visited the Smelly Cheese Shop...

 ...and, of course, the Chocolate Shop.

After all that activity, we relaxed in one of the rooms, before changing for dinner.

That evening, we dined at Harrigan's, where I couldn't resist the traditional Beef and Guinness Pie. Delicious! After dinner, we went to where the band was playing and watched a spectacular firework display. I then headed for bed, to allow Suzi and her Hens to dance the night away.

Suzi and Sandee, her bridesmaid to be.


Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa


Mart and Barb's house in Umhlanga

I'm back in Istanbul after an all-too-brief visit to South Africa. The days just flew by, even thought the weather was not all I had hoped it would be. While Istanbul was basking in glorious sunshine, Kwa Zulu Natal was enveloped in a chilly, damp cloud. On our last night there was an almighty thunderstorm, and as we left, the sun was shining in a cloudless sky. Oh well, perhaps next time...  Actually, the weather wasn't all bad. We did have three half days of sunshine, and we made the most of those.

Jane and Sean's house in Waterfall

On arrival at Jo'burg airport, we met David's brother, Paddy, for lunch while we waited for my flight to Durban, and David's flight to Harare. David was going fishing in Zimbabwe, while I was going to stay with Martin and Barbara, before visiting Jane and family. Members of our family don't always get to meet up often, as we are so spread around the world, but we always enjoy each others company when we do.

I had such fun staying with Barbara and Martin in Umhlanga. While there, Barbs and I went to a craft market, where she introduced me to photographer, Warwick Locke, and African wildlife artist, Wendy Beresford. You can see examples of their work here and here.

Sean talking to Wendy and Warwick at the Shongweni Farmers' Market

I was delighted to meet Warwick and Wendy again when Jane, Sean, the children and I went to Shongweni Farmers Market. Most of the artists selling their work in the market were Zimbabweans. One of them told me that his talent was a gift from God, because God knew that the Zimbabwe government wasn't going to look after its people, so He gave them their gifts so they could sell their work and look after themselves.

Sean from Zimbabwe. He makes decorations out of wire 
to sell in the market.

Another Zimbabwean artist displays his work

On one of our half-days of sunshine, we went to the Inanda dam. Jane, Sean and the children love fishing and sailing on the dam. This day we didn't have a lot of time, so they just fished, while I took photos. It really is a beautiful setting, with swathes of grass and foliage around the shore.

David and Jane watch Sean and the children as they fish.

Sean teaching Jordan to fish

Shannon and Sean fishing in the dam

The beautiful Inanda Dam, Kwa Zulu Natal

Fortunately, we will get to see Jane again in December on our family trip to Oz. I am really looking forward to that!

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